Game 4 in Indy was a make-or-break game, and the Pacers have tended to respond well with their backs against the wall. In the end, they did it again, playing with a passion and fire we’ve rarely seen this season, if at all, running out to a 7-0 lead to start the game and going up by as much as 25 points before finishing the rout with a final score line of 100-83.
The game 2 loss was expected and to a certain extent the game 3 loss too. I didn’t expect the Pacers to lay down in game 4, and the way they played tonight makes me wonder if this team is better than I thought or if it’s just the Raptors that aren’t as good as I thought.
Ian Mahinmi had the game of his life, pouring in career-highs of 22, 10 and 5. I think it’s safe to say we’ll never see this again until hell freezes over. Ian has been certifiably terrible thus far this series, largely due to foul trouble, and tonight he’s redeemed himself for all past sins.
George Hill, who has played lock-down defense on Kyle Lowry all series, finally decided to play aggressively on the offensive end and also finished with 22 points on just 2 missed shots. Lowry, on the other hand, was 4-12 for 12 points and fouled out in 36 minutes of play.
Paul George continued his own lock-down performance against DeRozan, scoring a still-solid 19 points on 6-16 shooting while holding his counterpart to 8 points and 6 turnovers. I love what I’m seeing from PG these playoffs in clearly separating himself from two other All-Star players. With another offseason to work on his game, his conditioning and his leg, he should be scary good next season.
PG said before the game that he was going to trust his teammates more and not trying to force too much by himself. The plan worked out well, as did coach Frank Vogel’s decision to insert Myles Turner back into the starting lineup in favor of Lavoy Allen. Turner was crap offensively, scoring just 4 points on 2-13 shots, but he did grab 7 rebounds and block 2 shots (and changed a bunch of others) in 27 minutes.
For the first time this series, the Pacers finally out-rebounded their opponents, 43-40, and also forced 17 turnovers against 12 of their own.
Great win for the blue and gold, but it’s unlikely we’ll see the same level of play in game 5 from both sides. In all honesty, the Pacers have already exceeded my expectations in this series. PG has played much better than I thought, and the team has played with more composure than I anticipated.
That said, to win this series, they’ll still need a signature game from either Monta Ellis and/or CJ Miles. Both guys were quiet tonight (7 and 4 points, respectively) but are capable of streaky performances. It’s hard to envisage the Pacers taking a game 7 in Toronto, so realistically their best chance is to shock the Raptors in game 5, demoralizing them, and then close it out in game 6.
I’ve been wrong about a lot of things this series, so perhaps the Pacers can shock me again.